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Brian Tracy quote

When we pay full attention to what someone is saying, it contributes to people feeling validated and recognised.sw_Listening_sa209430

One of the most valuable gifts you can give someone is to be present for them whilst they talk to you. If you think back over your last interaction with someone, did you listen properly? By this I mean really listen to them with your full attention?

Modern psychology states that something like 78% of our communication is non-verbal. This means when people are speaking their words may be saying one thing but their tonality, the volume of what they’re saying and body language, may all be communicating something else.

For example someone says, “Of course I love you!” in an aggressive tone. Or someone is saying yes whilst unconsciously shaking his or her head side to side in a ‘No’ fashion.

It’s the same when we’re listening, if we are only half paying attention to what someone is saying, we are giving mixed messages. What we’re really saying is, I’m not really listening because what I’d like to be getting on with, or saying is far more important than anything you have to say! These mixed messages are confusing for people and add to negative feelings and low self-esteem. It’s poor communication.

Successful business entrepreneur Brian Tracy uses the quote ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’ a good premise for excellent communication.

 Brian Tracy quote

The art of active listening requires practice and since many people like to talk about themselves, there’s usually plenty of opportunity for that.

Effective listening underpins healthy, positive relationships.

How do you stop your mind from wandering when the person in front of you is talking and perhaps you’ve heard it all before? Breathe, focus on your breath for a moment and then guide your unruly mind back to the person on the other end of the phone or the face of the person who’s standing in front of you. What if that was the last time you ever saw them, spoke with them? Would you be happy at how you had received them?

I once witnessed a situation where one person was sharing something really personal and heartfelt and the other person emptied the entire contents of her handbag looking for something. When the first person stopped talking the other eventually looked up and said “Go on, I am listening.” Was that active listening? What do you think?

So what is active listening? Here’s my top ten tips for attentive listening.

  1. Where possible stop what you are doing
  2. Make eye contact with the person who is speaking.
  3. Stand or sit directly in front of them.
  4. Aim to keep your own facial expressions to a minimum, no raised eyebrows or eyes rolling to the sky.
  5. Remain still, without fiddling or rummaging when someone is speaking to you.
  6. Refrain from sounds such as ‘tut’ ‘phew’ or other non-verbal sounds.
  7. When you think they have finished speaking, allow a space, they may not have finished.
  8. Don’t talk over people.
  9. Don’t interrupt.
  10. If someone is talking slower than your mind is working, don’t finish their sentences, there’s just a chance, you’re not a mind reader and don’t quite know what they’re going to say.

Looking forward to your feedback.




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Do You Know How To Love, Accept And Embrace Yourself?

‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken' Are you able to be yourself, to be authentic? Are you the real deal?

 In Just The Same Way That There Are No Two Snowflakes Exactly The Same, You Too Are Unique. file000904151411

Don’t you just love that quote by Oscar Wilde ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’ Are you able to be yourself, to be authentic? Are you the real deal?

Using a score from 0 – 10  zero being not at all and ten being totally your true self, take a moment to score yourself right now? If you scored ten congratulations, you may not want to read the rest of this blog.

As we continue on our journey in life and encounter its ups and downs, many people lose themselves along the way, whilst others struggle to find out who they really are. People can get lost in roles, dramas, addictions and illness to name just a few of the paths that can lead us away from who we really are.

What stops you from being the real genuine you? Is it childhood conditioning, or perhaps your good manners? Is it the fear of not being good enough, liked enough, loveable enough? Is it pretending to be what you think others want you to be?

Whatever the reasons, there will be a price to pay if we don’t find our way home to being who we really are.

Psychologist Carl Rogers believed that like a flower that will grow to its full potential if the conditions are right, so too will humans, given the conditions. He believed that the fundamental drive of humans is to flourish and thrive – to be the very best we can.

If Rogers was right, can we blossom and bloom if we constantly compromise ourselves by dancing to someone else’s tune? Betrayal of another is bad enough, but betrayal of ourselves, is the highest betrayal of all.

Rogers’s ‘congruency model’ is an interesting one. The face in the centre, is the real ‘you’. At the end of the arrows are the roles we adopt over time – such as the perfect mother, the long suffering wife, the dutiful husband, the protective brother, the hardworking teacher, nurse, banker and so on.Rogers' Model

We are placed in these roles, by families, our culture, society, our peers, and of course by ourselves.

Rogers said the bigger the gap between who we really are (Self) and who we are having to be to keep everyone happy, is where incongruence lies.

Incongruence is a word you tend to hear more of in the therapy world. It explains that sense of inauthenticity we can feel when a relationship is well and truly over and we cannot pretend any longer. Or the growing anxiety that presents itself every Monday morning when we can no longer face the pretence of going into the office and working with the people we have come to loathe. Or the job and its demands that we can no longer cope with.

In the gap between who we really are and our ‘role’ are things like panic attacks, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, psycho-somatic illness, phobias, addictions or any of the other things that we can all suffer with at different times throughout life.

So what do we do? How do we close this gap and become more congruent, more real?

We can start by making an honest assessment of our roles. I believe we need some time and space alone in order to ask ourselves honest questions and listen carefully, until we hear more truthful answers. Perhaps developing the habit of meditation for just 10 minutes a day or spending time in nature, going for a walk by the sea or in a national park.

In an ideal world, we will have the love and support of someone who doesn’t judge or criticise us, someone who will listen unconditionally. If you’re lucky you’ll have a good friend who you can talk to. If not, think about using the services of counsellors, coaches or support help lines.

Get into the habit of asking yourself this question regularly “Is this thing I’m doing or thinking kind and loving to myself”?

Find ways to build your self-esteem; improve your communication skills; learn to be more assertive so that you can deal more confidently with conflicts and difficulties.

Find ways to love and nurture yourself more. Work on forgiving yourself and others for their wrongdoings and fallibilities. In so doing, set yourself free from the heavy burden of judging.

‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken' Are you able to be yourself, to be authentic? Are you the real deal?

And remember the aim: Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken!

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It’s Time to Sack Your Inner Judge – Here’s How

Stop judging yourself
Ah yes, our inner Judge. Where does it come from? More importantly how can we stop the incessant judgments?

From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep the ‘Judge’ or ‘Inner Critic’ is often present, judging others and judging ourselves. How we look, what we do, what we did, how we act. Yes, the  Inner Judge presides and criticises all of it.

Well firstly, well done if you are able to even identify your ‘Inner Judge’ or ‘Inner Critic’,  since most people don’t  manage to separate themselves out from their Judge (and that isn’t a judgment!)

Secondly, you’ll need to be tenacious in order to keep observing the Judge from a different perspective or place.

Thirdly, you’ll need to have another place to go in order to watch or listen to the Judge at work.

[Related: Why Am I So Judgmental? Your judgments may hide a deeper meaning.]

Continue reading It’s Time to Sack Your Inner Judge – Here’s How

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A simple thought hack: create an analeptic circle to remove negative thoughts

Analeptic cycle
Do you know what an analeptic cycle is? I bet you know what a vicious cycle is!

Do you ever doubt yourself? Wonder if you’re quite good enough as a mother, daughter, son, friend, employee, employer or in any of the other roles we take up in life? Do you ever hear that little nagging voice in the back of the mind, or wake up to a stream of negative thoughts?

Welcome to life!

It’s totally normal to feel like this – most people do at some time or another.  But did you know that there are things that you can do to quieten the negative chatter, to silence the inner critic?

Here’s one technique for stopping that inner critic

Continue reading A simple thought hack: create an analeptic circle to remove negative thoughts

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Do you compulsively repeat patterns over and over? Here’s how to change

Do you constantly repeat the same patternsWhether consciously or subconsciously, we often recreate scenarios around us that are familiar. We do this in an effort to feel safe and comfortable.

A while back a client came to see me. The client – let’s call him “Pete” – couldn’t understand why he kept ending up in relationships that always ended the same way.

He’d be happy at first, but then his inner chatter would start to grow and he’d begin building stories based on his negative thoughts. Those thoughts then stimulated unpleasant negative emotions.

Before long he would behave in a way that provokes the very thing he was afraid of: rejection. Once he met someone new, the whole cycle would start again.

Do you find yourself repeating the same things over and over?

Continue reading Do you compulsively repeat patterns over and over? Here’s how to change

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Do you like yourself? Try these simple thought hacks to improve your self-esteem

Better Self Esteem

Better Self Esteem

Do you have good self-esteem? And what does good self-esteem really *mean* anyway?

I suppose the best way to describe someone with good self-esteem is that they are comfortable with themselves. Are you comfortable in your own skin? What would it take for you to feel comfortable inside and out?

Self-esteem can grow when we begin to have a better relationship with ourselves, when we start loving ourselves for who we really are, despite having made mistakes in life.

Continue reading Do you like yourself? Try these simple thought hacks to improve your self-esteem